Ether (ETH), the native token of the Ethereum network, has experienced an 8.2% decline between Oct. 2 and Oct. 9. This price drop can be attributed to an increase in coin issuance resulting from its regular monetary policy, relevant sales by Vitalik Buterin, and a disappointing first week for the futures-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) instrument.
Ether supply increase shatters the “ultrasound” theory
Throughout 2022, the Ethereum network underwent significant upgrades, which altered its coin issuance mechanism. This overhaul resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of new Ether tokens issued to secure the network and introduced a burn mechanism to further decrease the supply of ETH.
Ethereum enthusiasts have affectionately referred to this new supply schedule as “ultrasound money.” This is because, for most of 2023, the number of coins burned has exceeded the number issued, effectively causing a net decrease in the total ETH supply. However, what many failed to grasp is the inherent unpredictability of this monetary policy.
In September 2023, the coin issuance equation experienced an inversion as dynamic base fees decreased due to reduced network activity. According to data from the Ethereum analytics provider ultrasound.money, the supply of ETH has increased by 30,064 ETH in the past 30 days due to decreased activity in the burn mechanism.
It’s important to note that Ethereum’s mechanisms are functioning as designed, and there were no unexpected triggers for the reduced demand in transactions. Part of the issue lies in the high fees resulting from persistent network congestion, a problem only partially addressed by layer-2 scaling solutions.
Vitalik and the Ethereum Foundations’ sale are bad optics
Data from the Arkham analytics reveals that an address associated with Vitalik Buterin has sent 3,999 ETH to exchanges in the past five weeks, with a total value of approximately $6.4 million. This significant movement has sparked speculation within the community regarding its reasons, given the magnitude of the sale.
The most recent transaction on Oct. 7 suggests that the ETH was likely exchanged for fiat currency on Bitstamp. Notably, the address 0xD04daa65144b97F147fbc9a9B45E741dF0A28fd7 still holds 36,000 ETH, equivalent to $57.2 million.
The Ethereum Foundation has also recently made a sale, converting 1,700 ETH into $2.74 million worth of stablecoins on Oct. 9 using Uniswap. However, in this case, analysts have pointed out that the foundation’s actions align with its regular requirements for operational expenses, grants, and incentives.
Dwindling demand for the ETH futures ETF
A crypto wallet address linked to the FTX exploiter, initially holding 175,496 ETH, has moved a significant portion to the THORChain router and subsequently converted it into Threshold Network’s tBTC, an ERC-20 tokenized version of Bitcoin (BTC). Interestingly, this move prompted THORSwap to suspend conversion transactions on Oct. 6 following consultations with advisors, legal counsel, and law enforcement.
Numerous hypotheses could be formulated to explain the on-chain activity of the FTX hacker, but there seems to be no reason for converting ETH into a wrapped version of Bitcoin other than anticipating higher returns in fiat currency terms. Despite the recent increase in Ether’s supply, its price trend against Bitcoin has been unfavorable since November 2022.
Ether has underperformed Bitcoin by 25.7% in the last 11 months, causing the ETH/BTC ratio to breach the 0.06 support level. Therefore, several factors can be attributed to the negative sentiment surrounding Ether’s price, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase in June 2023.
More recently, the launch of Ethereum futures-based Ether ETFs on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) on Oct. 2 brought in less than $10 million in aggregate assets under management during the first week of trading.
Overall, the news surrounding Ether has been predominantly negative, which accounts for its recent poor performance. Factors contributing to this trend include increased regulatory risks for tokens and exchanges, the resumption of net coin issuance, sales by Vitalik and the Ethereum Foundation, and weaker-than-expected demand for the futures-based ETF.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.